Friday, April 20, 2018

12 Unusual, Frightening Mythical Monsters to Use in Your Fantasy Novel

Vamires. Minotaurs. Werewolves. Charybdis (those are the giant whirl-pool monsters you see in every sea adventure...yep. Bet you didn't know it had a name, but it does). Giant serpents. Ogers. These are just a few of the mythical monsters that are commonly used in fiction. They're cool, right?

Well, I know some cooler ones. *puts on hipster glasses* Allow me to introduce you to 12 mythical monsters that you've probably never heard of.
12 Unusual, Frightening Mythical Monsters to Use in Your Fantasy Novel

1. Nuckelavee

Image source: Deimos-Remus

This looks like something from Attack on Titan, doesn't it? From Scottish mythology, this is a skinless horse and rider that are apparently attached to each other. It is red as fire, its hands drag on the ground, and the breath from the horse's mouth causes death and disease. It is massive and, though it roams land, it can also live in the sea. Thankfully, it doesn't like fresh water, so if you want to be safe from it, go live on a lake. But that doesn't solve the issue of it killing all of your crops with its breath, does it?

2. Afanc

Image source: Afanc

A Welsh lake monster that basically looks like a demonic platypus...which is saying something because platypuses already look vaguely disturbing. Technically, it's a cross between a giant crocodile and a giant beaver. It kills people who enter its waters and is said to cause flooding by thrashing its tail around. I don't think it generally leaves the water, but if it does? No way am I living anywhere near a Welsh lake.

3. Mongolian Death Worm

Image Source: PyroHelfier
Literally exactly what it sounds like. It's a giant worm rumored to live in the Gobi desert. It resides beneath the sand, is thick like a sausage and 2 to 5 feet long. Touching it results in death, but being near it is also probably a terrible idea because it spews acid, poisonous gas, and possibly electricity. It often preys on camels and its acid can corrode metal. Suddenly snakes seems a lot less scary.

4. Lou Carcolh

Image Source: Feig-Art

Is this a giant, serpent-like snail? Yes. Is his name Lou? Yes. Because why not? A snail with a serpent-like body, it uses its long tentacles to eat people whole. And when I say "long," I mean that these tentacles can stretch for miles. Yes. Miles. In case you're wondering, this creature is from French mythology. What is it with the French and their snails?

5. Ijiraq

Image Source: Deimos-Remus

A half-man half-caribou monster from Inuit mythology. They are fast, strong, cause ground tremors, and kidnap people. Ijiraq are also very elusive: You only ever see them out of the corner of your eye and they are capable of shapeshifting. This is a personal favorite of mine.

6. Al-mi’raj

Image Source: Unita-N

Demonic bunnies! Yep. A large rabbit from Arabic poetry (what kind of poetry features a demonic bunny??), the Al-mi'raj has a 2-foot, black horn that it uses to skewer people. It then eats these people because it has a huge appetite.

7. Kamaitachi

Image Source: Flight Rising Wiki

Because the Al-mi’raj brought up the topic of rodents that shouldn’t be terrifying, but are: Let’s talk about the Kamaitachi. Sometimes called "sickle weasels," these monsters hail from Japan. Their claws are long and sharp like sickles, they have spiny fur, and ride on dust devils. They attack in threes: The first Kamaitachi cuts off a person’s legs, the other then cuts the person a bajillion times, and the third heals the person with magical salve. That last part makes them slightly less monstrous at first glance, but also begs the question: Why attack people in the first place? I’m not sure. Maybe they’re just sadists.

8. Hodag

Image Source: Kaijuverse

A fearsome monster hailing from…. *drum roll* Wisconsin. Because literally nothing happens in Wisconsin, so they decided to make up a monster so they could talk about something other than cheese. It has short legs, giant claws, a row of spears down its back and along its tail, and a weird, grinning, froggish face. Covered in fur, it smells like buzzard meat and is about 2 feet tall and 7 feet long. And it eats bulldogs…but only on Sundays. Obviously.

9. Yara-ma-yha-who

Image Source: Villains Wiki

A legendary vampire-like creature, the Yara-ma-yha-who (which is surprisingly fun to say, by the way) is a frog-like humanoid with red fur and no teeth. It hangs from trees and drops on people…apparently Tigger knows what’s up. They suck their victim’s blood using the suckers on their hands and feet, eat the person, then take a nap. This monster lives in Australia along with all the other disturbing animals that live in Australia.

10. Ushi-oni

Image Source: Loneanimator
An "ox-demon" from Japan, the ushi-oni has the head of an ox and the body of a spider/crab/some similarly creepy animal. It lives in the sea and attacks fishermen. This thing looks like the perfect steed for a demon lord.

11. Mothman

Image Source: Chris Scalf
Because moths weren’t already scary enough. A West Viriginian folklore, the mothman is…well…a man-sized creature with moth-like wings and red, "bicycle reflector" eyes. I just threw this in to remind you: Moths are creepy and would make great monsters. Use them in your stories.

12. Inkanyamba

Image Source: Jayar-Jonnz
A giant serpent (sometimes described as a giant eel) with a head like a horse, this monstrosity comes from South African folklore. It is said to be an aquatic animal, but also has wings and sometimes flies. According to some, there may also be electricity involved. Not that it really matters. A flying eel is frightening with or without electric shock.

If you're looking for more mythical animals, click here. This list includes both amazing creatures and terrible monsters. Feel free to use any of them or mix and match ideas and come up with your own monster. But be sure to leave a comment below and tell me all about it!

What is your favorite mythical monster?

Related articles:
9 Epic, Underused Mythical Animals for Your Fantasy Novel
9 Different Descriptive Settings to Use In Your Fantasy Novel (Without Using Forests)

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  1. Well, at least I can now look out for an afanc now. Had no idea they're said to be around in my area, so that's now on my research list! Awesome post! :D

  2. Perfect timing! I was just looking for a monster other than a dragon to use in my story. Thanks!

  3. LOL, these are awesome. I've never heard of Hodag before... which is strange because my parents used to live in/near Wisconsin. I'll have to quiz them on that.

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  5. This had been a HUGE help for the current novel I'm working on. All of these monsters are frightening and I can't wait to force them upon my characters. (I'm considering using the Death Worm).

    Also another thing that's fun to do is create your own mythical creatures/monsters. That's something I recommend doing if you want your book to have original and never before seen creatures.

  6. I'm a new reader; I came across your blog today through Pinterest. Have loved everything I've read so far. I had to comment on this one due to actually recognizing two of the creatures (the first two on your list). The nuckelavee (spelled without the first e) was on a Magic the Gathering card about ten years ago, and the Afanc was a minor monster in one of my favorite book series of all time: The Dark is Rising. As an avid reader of close to 40 years, I always have stories running through my head, and I've started to write the beginnings of some of them down. I love how your articles give me some ideas about what to do or not to do. And now you've given me the idea to find more obscure monsters to write about, for something different. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for this! xD I love reading about mythological creatures. I probably would've gotten freaked out if you hadn't thrown in those hilarious comments.

  8. I happen to be in need of a big bad snaky sea creature so I think I'm going to be using the Inkanyamba

  9. I proundly nominate few creatures from slavic mythology and folklore:
    Merk - the child-eating monster that pretends to be a pile of hay.
    Żmij - the huge flying serpent that is NOT a dragon for once.
    Trusia - How do you call a gigantic snake, stealty snake that protects reptiles? A name that implies being meek and even cowardly of course!
    Leleń - Huge, inteligent, cruel, man-hating deer.

  10. I'm from South Africa but I don't think I've even heard of the Inkanyamba before today. I figured a Tokoloshe would show up in a list of obscure mythological creatures from South Africa instead but I'm glad to have learned about the Inkanyamba as well. Great list, thank you. :)


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